Category Archives: Neil Gaiman

My Response to Neil Gaiman’s Modest Proposal

The master-of-the-macabre suggests that:

… on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.

Great idea, I say.  And since there are plenty of well-known books for kids-who-love-to-be-scared out there, I figured I’d suggest a few recently published books that may be less familiar.  By all means add your own suggestions, old and new, in the comments.

  • Jim, Who Ran Away From His Nurse, and Was Eaten By a Lion by Hilaire Belloc is a delightfully deadpan parody of a cautionary tale, amusingly illustrated (with flaps and such) by the clever Mini Gray.
  • Calef Brown’s Hallowilloween, also a picture book for older kids, is filled with silly poems that are as likely to produce giggles as shivers.
  • A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, on the other hand, has some truly spine-chilling moments leavened by wit and compassion. An utterly original take on the Grimm fairy tales, I’m reading it aloud right now to my 4th grade class  and they are loving it.  More from me about it here.
  • In The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall Mary Downing Hahn mixes together a Victorian waif, a forbidding manor, an accidental (or was it?) death of a child, and a graveyard with a deliciously spooky story as the result.
  • A haunted house is also central to the first of Jacqueline West’s Books of Elsewhere series,  The Shadows, along with magical objects, talking animals, a variety of ghosts, and an alternate world entered through paintings, making it a compelling read.
  • The Boneshaker by Kate Milford is an atmospheric and eerie story featuring a machine-loving girl, Dr. Jake Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show, and the Devil.
  • And finally, for teens, there is Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown’s Picture the Dead.  Set during the Civil War when spiritualism, spirit photography in particular, was in vogue, Jennie Lovell tells her chilling story through text and the pages of her scrapbook.

Also at the Huffington Post.

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Come to Dance the Macabray (with Book Carts)

I first heard about ALA’s Book Cart Drill Team competition after Jon Scieszka and Mo Willems stumbled upon it a few years back and took over the commentary.  But I’d never been there in person until this year when I finally managed to drop by just in time to see this group.   (I had to leave after this, but heard from Mo that there was one more group that did some sort of John Cage thing.  Can anyone tell us more about that one?)

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Nobody on the Red Carpet

A block before we reach the Kodak Theatre, the car is searched, and then we’re there and I’m tipped out on to the red carpet. Someone pushes a ticket into my hand, to get the car back later that night.

Neil Gaiman goes to the Oscars.

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Tim in Underland

I saw the Tim Burton Alice yesterday in IMAX 3-D and I’m neither thrilled nor annoyed.  Despite the lavish look it was pretty meh for me, I’m afraid.  I went in knowing it wasn’t Carroll’s story and so that was fine. But the story it was didn’t hold together very well for me.  There is Alice missing her father, the adventurer, and then taking his place at the end. Good enough. But the business of her becoming engaged at the beginning in a Carrollian-absurd-way?  And was the Hatter meant to be a father-stand-in or fiance-stand-in or what?  Felt a bit cobbled together with some elaborate visuals, but (dare I say it?) a bit dull at times.

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The House on the Rock, American Gods, and Halloween 2010

I’ve wanted to go to the House on the Rock ever since first encountering it in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.  It seemed to be one of those crazy places individuals with wild imaginations, time, and sometimes lots of money created. (Others that come to mine are this one, this one, and this one.)  So now I’ve got an even greater wish to go.  Evidently plans are afoot for an American Gods Halloween event at the very site.  And they may even let people ride the carousel!

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Dancing the Macabray

via Neil Gaiman

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Audio Tweets

Starting October 13 at Noon EST, Neil Gaiman (known as @Neilhimself) will launch a special round-robin interactive storytelling experience. He’ll tweet the first line of the story and then the rest is up to you! Just login to your Twitter account (registration is free) to continue the story.

Twitter an Audio Story with Neil Gaiman.

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Neil Gaiman’s Library

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No, that is not my school’s lovely library, and it certainly isn’t mine. It is  @neilhimself‘s “downstairs library.”  I only wonder what the upstairs library looks like!  More here.

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The Does and Don’ts of Conventioneering, ALA Edition

***Warning — this is a very self-indulgent post with lots of me in it.***

Do bring a wrap for the chilly convention center.
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Don’t walk by a Payless while already in the convention city, think that perhaps 3 inch heels would indeed be more elegant for the Newbery Banquet than the cute little patent leather flats in suitcase, go in and try on $20 pair, buy them and then hobble about the night of the Banquet.
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Do enjoy wonderful books personally signed by lovely authors at dinners.
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Don’t get sucked into the “There’s an ARC, I better take it” situation and then have your shoulder sag and sag and sag as you take more and more and more.  (If you do, be sure to mail them though.)

Do network and have fun seeing old friends.

Random House gave Florence Parry Heide a lovely 90th Birthday Party.
Heide51SCVSNMZFL._SL500_AA240_I adore the above book as evidently does Lane Smith, another old friend, who has illustrated Florence’s latest book. (We first met many, many, many years ago when a student of mine took me along while she interviewed him — her mother knew his wife from college — in his incredibly cool NYC studio.)
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51HgBMLbToL._SL500_AA240_Don’t even attempt to get a book signed by Neil Gaiman the day after he gives his Newbery speech. (This line is OUTSIDE the exhibits.  It was segmented and HarperCollins folk –editors included — were doing a fantastic job managing something that took many hours.  I wonder if anyone has done a signing at ALA quite like it.)
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Do get prettied up for the Newbery Caldecott Wilder Banquet as did these lovely ladies I’m standing with: Patty Rosati, marketing wiz at HarperCollins and Jennifer Hubert Swan of Reading Rants).
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Don’t overlook fathers and sons like Walter Dean Myers and Chris Myers.  Their forthcoming Egmont book, Looking Like Me, is going to be a hit, I predict.
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Don’t overdo the confetti eggs!  Here are Starr LaTronica and Melanie Chang dealing with the result of one.
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Do be as starry-eyed as you want after finally meeting someone you admire, have an extended conversation about reading aloud, and then go off to sit at his publisher’s table to see him get his Newbery Medal.
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Don’t think you aren’t noticed when you slip back to the dais to twitter or something like that.
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Do run around like everyone else taking photos for fun!
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Here are Jenni, Kathi, and Ashley!

Don’t feel guilty for being unable to cover everything (partly because I’m a lousy photographer and my camera’s batteries were dead the first day).  It was just great to see friends, see new and forthcoming stuff, consider issues like translating (USBBY session on this was fantastic), blogging (the Booklist session on this was great too),  and just have a blast talking and talking and talking about what we all love so much — books.

Do go home tired, but happy.

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Away to Chicago

CHICAGO_Attending

I’m off shortly to ALA in Chicago where I will be seeing many friends from the publishing world — authors, illustrators, editors, marketers, publicity folks, agents, librarians, academics, reviewers, educators, teachers, bloggers, booksellers, and book lovers of all stripes. Can’t wait to see them all and do some socializing, gossiping, hear about and see new and forthcoming books, and otherwise have a grand time.

In addition to all the socializing and networking, I also plan to:

  • Stop by the Mo Willems reading at the Art Institute’s “Picture Perfect: Caldecott Award Books: 2006-2009) exhibit on Friday afternoon, 3-5.
  • Wander the exhibits on Saturday morning. (This is perhaps my favorite thing to do — see what is coming down the pike for all of us.  I’m also on the look-out for next year’s Battle of the Kids’ Books contenders.)
  • Meet up with some fellow child_litters for lunch on Saturday at the convention center food court (thanks to Cheryl Klein for organizing this).
  • Hopefully make it to the Saturday 1:30 session, “Books and Blogs: Made for Each Other?”
  • Sit in on the Notables meetings (their discussion list is available here) at various times.
  • Also on Saturday, at 3:30, get to the session, “Mixing it Up: The Process of Bringing International Children’s Books to the US” with Cheryl and others.
  • On Sunday at 1:30, go to The Pura Belpré Celebración; I’ve never been before and hear it is wonderful!
  • Be at the Newbery Caldecott Wilder Banquet on Sunday.  I went to my first one of these in 2002 when my dear friend Roxanne Feldman was on the committee that honored Linda Sue Park with the Newbery Medal for A Single Shard.  She arranged for me to sit at the FSG table where I had a blast with Jack Gantos.  Since then I’ve gone yearly and it has been wonderful each time.  Last year was, of course, particularly special because it was when I was on the Newbery Committee and we got to see one of the best banquet speeches to date by our winner, Laura Amy Schlitz.  Neil Gaiman is an amazing speaker (and, as this blog’s readers well know, I was a huge advocate for his book winning), but I’m dubious that even he can beat Laura’s mesmerizing presentation of  last year. Still he is NEIL GAIMAN, arguably the biggest celeb to win this award (biggest outside this world of children’s books, I mean), a great guy, and a wonderful storyteller in his own right — so I’m sure it is going to be one hell of a night.  I cannot wait!
  • Listen to Melba Beals on Monday morning.
  • Attend the presentation of the Batchelder, Carnegie, Geisel, and Sibert Awards later on Monday morning.

Sadly I am returning to NYC on Monday afternoon so cannot attend the Odyssey Award Presentation and Reception, the Printz Award Program, the Coretta Scott King Award celebrations (really, really sorry I can’t do these — I’ve gone to the amazing breakfast several times and this year there are more events to celebrate 40 years of the award), and too many other cool looking activities.

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